Have you ever questioned the meaning of the phrase first cousin once removed? Or debating with relatives who exactly qualify as your first cousins? To identify your cousin’s relationship, start with your most recent common ancestor.
If two people share a common ancestor, they are first cousins. First cousins share grandparents. But what does once removed mean? If the common ancestor is the parent of your cousin, you are called a first cousin once removed. If you are a child of your cousin, and they are the child of that same cousin, you are a first cousin twice removed. To find the relationship between two cousins, look across the top row of the cousin chart and down the left column to see where they intersect. Then read the appropriate family label.
When you get to the second cousin level, things get tricky. To identify your relationship to a second cousin, look across the top of the chart and down the left-hand side until those two lines meet. The box where they intersect is their common ancestor. To determine their relationship to you, count down the generations from that ancestor to find the cousin relation. For example, a second cousin, once removed, is someone you share one set of great-grandparents with. It is also known as being a “half” cousin.
The complexities of ‘once removed’ and ‘thrice removed’ cousins get tricky, but the downloadable chart below makes it easier. Just identify the common ancestor for two relatives and find their relationship to that ancestor in the top row. Then follow each relative’s line across the bottom and down the side until their lines intersect. That’s their relationship. If they share a parent, that’s a first cousin; sharing grandparents makes them second cousins, and sharing great-grandparents are third cousins. Then add one generation, and you have your cousin’s degree of removal.
Through great-great-great-great-grandparents, a fourth cousin is linked. When discussing fourth cousins, this is five generations, meaning that their ancestors were five generations apart. Your fourth cousin’s child is your fourth cousin once removed. Two cousins are considered “removed” if they have the same ancestor but not the same number of descending generations.
When you get to fifth cousins, it gets a little more complicated. You start with your shared ancestor and then work your way through the siblings of that ancestor. You also add in the spouses of these siblings to determine how you and your cousin are related. Family tree charts can help you easily understand how many generations separate you and your cousins. You can also use systems of degrees and removals to specify a relationship more precisely. It helps take some of the mystery out of figuring out relationships.
The relationships get even more complicated when you get into fifth and sixth cousins. The jargon can also be confusing, especially when you hear terms like “twice removed” or “distant fourth.” They are descended from several offspring of the same great-great-great-great-grandparents, making them sixth cousins. It may also be stated that your sixth cousin’s great-great-great-grandparent and your great-great-great-great-grandparent were related.
We use a cousin chart to help us figure out our relationship with relatives who share a common ancestor. For instance, once removed, we may be first cousins if our common ancestor’s daughter had a son who married your father’s brother. To find out your relationship, you move across the top and down the left side of the cousin chart. Where the two lines intersect, you will see your relationship. To determine the generations between you and your cousin, you count era after age until you reach your shared ancestor.
When researching your family tree, you might encounter unfamiliar cousin relationships. Uncovering these connections can be confusing and difficult to understand. The “once removed” part of the cousin relationship simply refers to how many generations away from a common ancestor you are. For example, once removed, your first cousin’s children are your first cousins. The key is to determine your shared ancestor. Then, find the other person’s relationship to that same ancestor. It will be their relative designation. For example, if two people are fourth cousins once removed, they share two common great-great-grandparents.
A ninth cousin is someone with whom you share at least one common great-grandparent. They are descended from different children of that same ancestor, so they are “removed” one generation further than you are. Generally, the more generations you go back when defining cousin relationships, the less likely it is that two people will have DNA matching. Itis why it can be so difficult to use DNA testing results to determine cousin relationships. It can get very confusing. Using a cousin chart can help.
It’s possible to have up to tenth cousins depending on how many generations you go back. Half-cousin and half-aunt/uncle describe cousins who share only one parent. Find their common ancestor across the top row and down the left column to determine the relationship between two people on a family tree chart. The point at which the lines meet tells the relation. For example, if your relation is your second cousin once removed, they are the child of your parents’ first cousins.